Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Dog Warden Days

I spent four years working as a dog warden until my health began to play up leaving me incapable of doing the job anymore.  My time spent doing that job was eventful to say the least but I do not regret a minute of it.  I did continue to run my own training classes at weekends as well at first but then I realised that the stress of dealing with errant dog owners all week and then trying to help and teach owners at weekends was getting too much so I gave them up as the job had to come first!

During my four year stint I often came into close contact with the less desirable members of our society including drug pushers, addicts, alcoholics, and other strange people.  But I also met some incredibly nice people who really seemed as though they did not belong on the sink estates that I had to frequent all too often. 

A few examples;
I reunited one lady with a dog she had lost a year ago, which had been found straying on the next estate to her, complete with nice new collar on!  The dog was microchipped yet had never been scanned until I picked her up so had been kept by someone else for a whole year until one day she had strayed!  Her original owner was over the moon, the more recent keeper less so, but as far as I was concerned, the original owner was genuine (she had reported the dog missing a year before according to our files) so that was the end of the matter.  Moral of story?  If you find a dog, report it to the dog warden who can then scan it to see if there is an owner.  If not then you may keep hold of it but the dog warden will have to take a photo and details and issue you with a Finders Notice which means that you should keep the dog yourself in case an owner turns up.  If someone reports it missing then the Dog Warden will send them to you and you have to return the dog to them but do remember that you have the right to ask the owner to refund you any vets fees and food costs you may have incurred so keep receipts.  After 28 days have passed, you may keep the dog yourself or rehome it yourself.   On the other hand, if you allow the dog warden to collect the dog from you then it will be kept for just 7 days in kennels before being rehomed.  Sick, aggressive or badly injured dogs may be put down though depending on the local authority.  But do not simply keep the dog yourself in the first place!  You have a legal duty to report all found strays to the local authority.  The police rarely deal with strays now and vets and RSPCA can do nothing about them either.

The next is a longer story;
I was called out one day as a lady had reported a 'bleeding Rottweiller' in her front garden!  No, she wasn't swearing!  There was quite literally, a very large male Rottweiller in her garden, laid down with blood dripping from a 5 inch gash in its' face!  An RSPCA Animal Collection Officer had turned up too (heavens knows why as strays were my domain not hers) and was trying to tempt it with biscuits which the dog kept eating before lunging at her with a menacing snarl!  After standing back and watching (well it was funny!) I then felt that the dog would be better off in my van to be taken to a vets straight away.  I called up the neighbouring dog warden aften restraining the dog calmly with my grasping pole and between us we heaved him in.  He spect a few days in the vets and the owner collected him and paid the bill.  It turned out that the dog had been taken off his yard and slashed across the face with possibly a razor as some sort of warning to the owner who was a dodgy character to say the least!  

Six months later I met said Rottweiller again, this time with a younger Rotty male, patrolling the street where he lived and terrifying the neighbours who dare not come out!  They had somehow got out of their yard and no-one was home so I had to set about catching them.  The one with the scar down his face I recognised straight away and I knew he liked biscuits so I took a chance!   I walked over calmly, avoiding eye contact, dog biscuits in hand and asked him to 'Sit!' which he duly did!   So then I put my arm through a slip lead and popped a biscuit in the same hand and asked the dog to sit again.  As he did so, I dropped the open slip lead straight round his neck and rewarded him with more biscuits to a huge cheer from curious residents who were all watching from the safety of their bedroom windows!  I then lured 'Scarface' over to my open van doors and threw biscuits inside the cage.  In he popped like a sweetheart and I closed the cage door, trapping the lead handle in it to make it easy to get him out later.  Upon my doing this he turned round and threw himself at the cage door with such a roar that I jumped backwards!  But he was secure so I locked the van doors and went after his younger friend. 

After following the other Rottweiller around the close, I managed to corner him (he was very nervous) and got him with the grasper.  Leading him back to the van was great fun as he leapt about like a fish trying to escape from a line and roared his defiance at me all the way!   I was so glad that I had chosen the six foot grasping pole!  But, he was not as obliging as Scarface and no way would he jump up into the other cage in the van!  I cajoled and encouraged, I pushed and I pulled but no!  He would much rather try to take my head off than go in that van!  It was then I espied the two young policemen watching me from a garden gate.  They had been to see a resident on another matter and were now watching me with some amusement!  Huh!  So I called to them sweetly and asked for some assistance!  I nearly died with laughter when they dashed first to their squad car and re-emerged wearing their leather driving gloves!  Some protection they were going to be!  I organised the two coppers into a team and had one holding open the cage door ready to slam it once the dog was in.  The other I told to push as hard as he could on the dogs backside once I had managed to lift the pole enough to get his front paws onto the bumper!   We did it on a count of three and the second Rotty was in the van!  I have never seen two policemen more relieved in my life!  I drove to the holding kennels with a barking, rocking, rolling van which seemed to bemuse other drivers every time I stopped at the lights!  I think they thought I had two lions in the back as the poor little van was literally rocking from side to side amid roars of fury from the two dogs inside!  Once there, I was assisted by another dog warden in getting the dogs out and into the kennels.  Their owner did not collect them this time and sadly both dogs were put to sleep after 7 days as they were so aggressive that even the kennel staff could not clean their kennel out much less exercise them!   Huh!  I caught them both on my own!  What was their problem?

My last two stories are about dogs whose owners should have been shot at dawn in my opinion!

Poor dog 1;
I was called to assist the council and police in breaking into a locked flat where there was a dog present.  The tenant had ignored all contact from the council and the flat below was experiencing water leaking through their ceiling!  Once inside, I made one of the policeman go first in case there was a dead body in there! (Have you noticed how bossy I am with coppers?) The floor was strewn with faeces and rubbish and we really had to watch our step!  Whe he opened the living room door, the policeman suddenly gasped Oh my god!" and took his hat off.  Thinking he had found a body I asked if there was one.  He said  (and I have never forgotten his words) "No duck but come and look at this poor bugger!"  I walked in and there, standing up on the back of the sofa was the most emaciated labrador sized dog I had ever seen.  The petrified animal looked like he had stepped out of Belsen!  There was not an ouce of flesh on him.  Every bones stuck out and even his eyes were sunken.  The policeman, a dog lover had tears in his eyes at the sight.  I moved slowly towards the dog and he screamed and jumped onto the window sill!  I reached out slowly with my grasper (there was no getting near this one with a slip lead!) and caught him gently all the time talking to him him quietly.  As I led him from the flat all the workmen and the other polcemen fell silent, I do not think they could believe how the dog was still alive.  Of course, it became an RSPCA case and the 22 year old, 8 months pregnant woman who owned him received  a five year ban from keeping animal and was ordered to pay £100 fine. 

The dog was adopted by someone who cared for him whilst they got him back up to normal weight.  Names and faces removed to preserve anonymity.

His previous owners' defence was that she was pregnant!  I suppose she was allowed to keep the baby...

Nuff said!

Poor dog 2; (Not for the squeamish!)
This one I do not have pictures of and to be honest, you would not really have wanted to see it!   It was a very hot August day (can you tell this was some years ago?)  I was called to an estate local to where I live where there were reports of a sick little dog collapsed under a hedge.   When I got there he had gone but I drove round the streets nearby until a lady told me he had gone up a path and behind an empty house.  As I walked up the path I thought I could smell a dead body and as I rounded the corner, there, laid flat out on the garden was a little grey dog, about the size of a jack russell.  I thought at first that it had died until I realised that its' ribcage was still moving.  The dog was devoid of hair from nose to tail apart from a few clumps and seemed to be covered in some sort of skin condition. I lifted its' head by the collar and it was then I saw an empty eye socket, seething with maggots and putrified flesh dropping out of it!  (I did say 'Not for the squeamish!)  The dog absolutely reeked of 'death' but I had to get it to the van somehow.  As it could not walk, there was only one thing for it.  Yes, I picked it up!  I carried it (trying not to inhale!) to the van and laid it carefully in a cage.  Its' skin was so sticky, it was literally rotting to death!  I drove the six miles to the vet we used and rushed in to get them outside to it as no way was I taking it in!  They agreed with me and put the poor thing to sleep straight away.  I then left my van with my boss as he wanted to clean it to get rid of the smell and any disease and I returned home.  The next day, I investigated and managed to find out who owned it!  I took another council official round and we interviewed yet ANOTHER heavily pregnant woman!!!  She denied knowing that the dog was so ill and had no idea it was missing an eye!  She actually blamed her ten year old girl as 'She should have been bathing it!'  How I contained myself I do not know but I remained very professional and informed (the cow!) calmly that the RSPCA would be in touch.  I then returned to my van and called the RSPCA and made a formal report, setting the wheels in motion on behalf of that poor little dog.  I then took the van back, went home and broke down.  I suffered Post Traumatic Stress for 7 months afterwards and ended up having hypnotherapy and normal therapy by a counsellor was no help at all.  I was left with (and still have) a phobia about the smell of death and feel physically sick if I even think I can smell it.  The RSPCA Inspector and I worked for a year putting the case together only for Head Office to accept the womans excuse that the little girl should have looked after it and she could not have it put down because the kids would have been too upset!  They just gave her a written caution so that the case did not even go to court!   The RSPCA Inspector was furious and could not even look me in the eye when he told me but he could do no more.

Now do people understand why I am not a 'people person' and why I am more at ease in the company of animals and certain like minded folk only?  Yes I am a cynic and yes I detest and loathe cruelty and neglect.  The animal is NEVER to blame, no matter what it is supposed to have done and so called civilised humans should know better!  Funnily enough, I am still not anti RSPCA but by crikey their Head Office bods need to get back to the floor and see what it is like in the real world!  The Inspector in the above case was not at fault as far as I'm concerned. 

The above are just a few of my experiences as a Dog Warden.  It's not a job I recommend as unless you are rock hard, it will get to you in the end.  It started to depress me after the 'rotting dog' episode and my heart went out of the job.  I also started to suffer with my health so eventually I quit.  I too often felt quite vulnerable, not that I was scared of any of the dogs I dealt with (though some were dangerous!) but some of the the owners were something else!  There were times when I feared for my safety to be honest.   But there were also times when I feared for my sanity.  When I started to go through a huge box of Rennies per week, I knew it was time to quit!

Please note that I will not allow anti-RSPCA comments on as this blog can be read by anyone and I do not want lawsuits for libel!

1 comment:

  1. A sad state of affairs.

    I do find it even more disturbing that pregnant women were involved a couple of times.

    As you say, it is never the animals fault, and if you can't see that, don't have a pet. I feel sorry for the people that think I am a loony, paying out £100's (£300 + to date this year) on medical care for Stitch - it's not his fault, and it is always an owner's perrogative to put their animals first.